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Paperback
130 pp. | 210 x 315 mm
May 2023

2022 Edition

under the mulberry tree

A Contemporary Uyghur Anthology, Vol. 1
(Revised edition)

Overview: The Contemporary Uyghur Anthology is a collection of Uyghur reflections in diaspora. Weaving together memories of the homeland, experiences of displacement, and transitions of identities, this anthology is a creative reflection of the beauty and complexities of the Uyghur experience.

 

By centering Uyghur voices at the forefront, this anthology serves as a form of living memory in a pivotal moment of Uyghur history. The title Under the Mulberry Tree refers to a story from the Uyghur literary classic Ana Yurt, where youthful Nuri faces terrible injustices, separation, and turmoil; but for one moment in the Charbagh, his love for Sebihe and his own family is full, ripe, and sweet, like the mulberries from the ancient tree. In a similar way that the mulberry tree offered comforts in Nuri’s time of need, we hope this volume offers a place of reflection and celebration of Uyghur culture.

A dream diary, a poem about Uyghur bread (nan), stories inspired by folktales or old friends, buried memories induced by photographs, objects or the smell of home baking… This anthology will engage all your senses and immerse you into the intense and multifaceted diasporic Uyghur experience in the context of an ongoing oppression in the homeland. 

 

The first volume of Under the mulberry provides poignant testimonies but also testifies to the creativity and vitality of the diasporic Uyghur community. The editors certainly did a wonderful job in weaving together a variety of moving texts and stunning visual artworks – from poems and short stories to photography, art installation, painting and sculpture.

 

A fascinating account and a must read. I can only look forward to the next volumes – and to possible translations of this captivating compilation into other languages!

-Vanessa Frangville

Under the Mulberry Tree is testimony and testament. This groundbreaking volume’s poems, essays, and stories evoke ineffable intergenerational pain and an ever-present absence. Yet it celebrates, even revels in the diversity of global Uyghurs navigating the “diasporic dilemma.” The richness of Uyghur diaspora art comes through in images of mournful comfort juxtaposed with stories singing with anger. A message echoes beneath each page: something is being born.

-Eric Schluessel

Men tughulghanda, dadam hoylimizgha bir tüp üjme derixi tikiptiken. Men axirqi qétim wetendin ayrilghanda, yoghinap ketken shu üjme derixi tüwide dadam we anam bilen yighliship xoshlashtim. Weten qaldi, eziz uruq - tuqqanlirim qaldi...


Dadam üjme derixining yiltizi bek chongqur bolidu deydighan. Hazir belki shu üjme derixi késiwétilgendur. Emma, bir küni wetende, eshu mehellemde nabut bolghan üjme derixining yiltizini kolap tépishimgha ishinimen!

-Gülnar Eziz

Introduction

Maidina Kadeer, Sonya Imin, Munawwar Abdulla

Under the Mulberry Tree: A Contemporary Uyghur Anthology began in 2021 by the Tarim Network to respond to the ongoing oppression and genocide of the Uyghur people. It is now a creative collaboration by members of the diasporic Uyghur community to insert, highlight and amplify our own stories. We began by hosting a series of writing, editing, and creative workshops to support contributors in developing their work. After going through submissions, by early 2022 we launched an online-only edition of this volume with successful in-person and online launch events. Shortly after we decided to create an extended edition for a physical book, responding to strong interest from both individuals and institutions. This revised edition offers additional translations, remarks from the contributors, and notes from our editorial team to provide added educational context. Now, after over two years of work, we are proud to share this new and improved volume with our readers.

The heart of this volume lies in the stories and memories of our contributors. Their experiences span across time and space, including both first and second-generation perspectives, making this anthology a unique snapshot across a broad breadth of Uyghur life. Some are established poets, artists, and writers, while many others have never been published. While we did not ask for a central theme, it was clear as we organised submissions that memory appeared as a common thread in people’s work. For Uyghurs in the diaspora, memory often manifests as a collective yearning for a home to which we no longer have access. In this volume, these experiences of memory are explored through engaging with Uyghur language and literature, re-imagining Uyghur visual culture, and reflecting on one's life through personal essays and photography. The memories elicited by these works are more than mere re-telling of an event. Instead, they serve as a living testimony ready to be witnessed.

The written and visual testimony in this anthology is a snapshot of the present moment of the Uyghur experience. The sharing of memory is an act of testimony towards a specific lived reality, which for Uyghurs is currently under threat. French philosopher Gabriel Marcel defines testimony as bearing witness to suffering. Sharing one’s testimony requires the acceptance of personal truth through an act of ‘self-gifting’, which for us has materialised in this anthology. Testimony also connects us to authentic meaning and personal liberty by expressing deeper experiences of identity and being, or what Marcel refers to as the ‘I’. Our anthology is a space where this ‘I’ is recorded, testified, and witnessed. It is an exploration of spaces, places, and faces that continue to live with and through the memories of every one of our contributors. Between these pages, our contributors have explored the memories of their personal and collective experiences, creating a space where Uyghur voices and interests could be harboured and put at the forefront of our discourse. In this way, we are testifying before our community and the world, exploring the complexity of what it means to be Uyghur in contemporary society. Subsequently, as China continues its denial of the ongoing genocide against the Uyghur and Turkic communities, forms of testimonial memory serve as an active re-structuring of what is perceived to be truth in history. 

As an editorial team of young Uyghur women, we are pleased to present our first volume as a starting introduction to Uyghur life, culture, and experience beyond the colonial gaze. For a larger part of Uyghur history, attention to our lives and story only appears when violence and unrest erupt under imperial and colonial conquest. In the process of reflecting on our own lived realities, and the realities shared in this anthology, we recognise the vulnerability which comes from sharing and identifying the burdens that we often carry. Many in the diaspora have lost access to our homes and loved ones, and we continue to struggle in finding ways to channel that grief. Yet, this vulnerability of sharing our collective experiences, with both the hopes and the sorrows, has been able to paint an intimate reflection of Uyghur life. As much as this volume testifies to our struggles, it also gestures towards a resilience that we have continued to carry. The expansive power embedded in the encounters of art and literature allows Uyghur experiences, and the being of our ‘I’, to be witnessed by our readers. ‘Under the Mulberry Tree’ is thus the meeting place where we share our stories with one another, seeing and witnessing these creative manifestations of our memories. 

The editorial team deeply thanks each of our contributors for trusting us with their work, as well as the Rene Cassin Institute and Moishe House who have continued to offer vital support throughout the development and publication processes.

Co-editors:
Munawwar Abdulla
Sonya Imin
Maidina Kadeer
Emily Zinkin

Design:
Shiffa Samad

Cover Image:
Camilla Dilshat
Contributors:
Muyesser Abdul'ehed (Hendan)
Munawwar Abdulla
Aykezar Adil
Dilshat Aripov
Jangul Baurjan
Ablikim Bughra
Camilla Dilshat
Ilminur Efvan
Merdan Eheteli
Ayesha Erkin
Mirshad Ghalip
Yadykar Ibraimov
Subi Imam
Sonya Imin
Mutellip Iqbal
Maidina Kadeer
Aynur Korla
Leena Kuerban
​Zulmira Magametova
Elminur Mahpirof
Abdushukur Muhammet
Sarvenaz Nurali
Kabir Qurban
Zordun Sabir
Ali Sibir
Sarah Suzuk
Malik Orda Turdush
Zohre Uyghur
Manzire


Workshop Hosts:
Sonya Imin
Rachel Lewis
Malik Orda Turdush
Elspeth Wilson
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